The Journey Home

Rebellious college student Anesa Stryker has always felt like an outsider, even in her own family.

When Anesa’s scandalous behavior ruins her reputation, she decided the best way to escape the consequences is to marry and leave the only home she has ever known.

Jack Steele, a charming ne’er-do-well veteran of the Spanish-American War, has little experience with farming but wants to stake a homesteading claim in South Dakota. He is impressed with Anesa’s hard work in her family’s gardens, and admires her knowledge of growing food and ability to manage her family’s lucrative produce business. As she helps him figure out the needs and costs to successfully operate a farm, they each feel destined to become husband and wife.

Anesa and Jack marry and head to South Dakota. Homesteading and marriage prove harder than the couple expects. When tragedy strikes, Anesa is left on her own with a new baby. Now, she must find a way to forge a future for herself and her daughter or lose the land she’s worked so hard to earn.


Chapter 1

May 1899
Cedar Falls, Iowa
No one could accuse Anesa Stryker of being a Goody Two-shoes like her half sister, Inga, but she prayed she hadn’t pushed the boundaries too far this time. Anesa scowled at the textbook lying open on the library table. Why on earth do I have to study ancient history? The people were long dead and gone. All the events were over and done with. Knowing about them
brought nothing useful to her life.

She swept her gaze over the room. Most of the chairs were occupied by men and women studying diligently for the upcoming end-of-term exams.

Her stomach growled. If only she’d slipped away to the confectionary after her last class instead of coming directly to the library. Her frown deepened. She would probably have gone for sweets had she not been reprimanded a few weeks back for breaking the Normal School’s regulation requiring students to remain in the library for study during free afternoon hours.

Stupid rule. Rubbing her forehead with her fingertips, she forced her attention back to the chapter.

“Miss Stryker,” the runner from President Seerley’s office whispered over her shoulder. “Come with me.”

Anesa’s body felt as if it had solidified into dead weight. She looked up at the prim, bespectacled young woman. A smirk added a touch of malice to the runner’s normally pinched face.

Slowly, Anesa closed the textbook and gathered her possessions in her arms. Steadying herself against the heavy oak table, she rose. She struggled to keep hold of her handbag, textbooks, and papers as she trudged behind her executioner, past the stares of the other students.

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